If readers were to ask five different people “what does it mean to be a Jew?” they would surely end up getting five different answers. Those readers who maybe have done this before can certainly relate. However, there is sure enough, a way to properly address the question “what does it mean to be a Jew?” or “what is being Jewish?”. Yosef Meystel has been talking about the multiple nuances of the Jewish identity, and if something can be now asserted is that the simple term known as “Jewish identity” has multiple connotations: too many people think of it as an ethnic identity, whereas other people think it has to do with culture; others conceive it as way of managing social spheres since they think the Jewish identity has to do with a rather social identity. Some would express their Jewish conception in a nationalistic way since they think being Jewish means to be a part of the nation of Israel. The question of how is Judaism really defined, and to some extent the meaning of religions, should be answered by going back to the scriptures, and, consequently, how it affects and shapes Jewish people’s life’s.
It would be fair to say that being Jewish is what serves as guidance for people’s interpretation of life. Imagine having a background of more than 3,500 years worth of history and to be part of an extraordinary people. Bear in mind that Judaism provided solid concepts for civilizations such the importance of integrating ethical behaviors alongside the religious practices, as well as the magnificence of never disregarding justice. Being Jewish going to the world while bringing the lessons that thousands of years, and in spite of the fact of the oppression and persecution throughout history, have taught them: businesses, communities, relationships, etc. can benefit from the Jewish teachings and Jews by extension, as it has been the case if readers were to mention the greatest Jewish thinkers, scientists, philosophers, doctors, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, writers, filmmakers, etc. that have lived and positively impacted the world and society with their work.
Being Jewish also means respecting the values that are intrinsic and inherent to Judaism: thinking highly of honesty, justice and compassion has helped Jewish communities to thrive and establish solid relationship among each other, moreover, Jewish people seek to take this to a whole new level by becoming philanthropists and activists who constantly strive to eliminate pejorative aspects of society such as racism and the hatred that is lashing out people. Jews have suffered the blunders of subjugation, yet they have managed to keep that compassionate behavior, and, moreover, they have lived by it and no one can deny the wonders they have achieved. Respecting each other’s freedom and dignity is something entailed in the fabric of Judaism; thus, it is not rare that Jews have been in the front of the struggle for freedom for other wherever and whenever these have been oppressed. This is an important part of what being Jewish means, as one of the objectives of Judaism is the ongoing quest of making life more meaningful for them and those around them —helping others cope with the anguish of suffering and nurturing the mystery of love within the importance of human relationships and family are how Jewish strive to attain the sense of purpose in life.
Jews also address relevant questions in regards to life and death and other major issues by looking at them using the teachings of Judaism, since it provides the tools for dealing with these profound topics within every one’s heart. Being Jewish also means having a stable, balanced and happy family life within the community: practicing the inherited values is the way to achieving a much deeper connection with one’s own family and members within the community. Being Jewish also means believing the connection between belief and action: firmly believing that doing good deeds outweighs the negative and evil things in the world is a way to live in favor of mankind and fellow Jews; Judaism taught that Jews should always bear in mind helping not only the poor but also those in need through actions: charity, feeling empathy, or just simply lending a hand to those who need it are some ways the Jews definitely lean the world towards a much better and positive place. This becomes more relevant as Judaism considers and emphasizes the importance of life as it is lived on earth, rather than what comes next; the importance of living by Jewish teachings is the way to work and repair the damage that has been done to the world by injustice: striving to make life better for all people and fellow Jews, especially the poor and the oppressed, is what embodies the true meaning of being Jewish. Be proud for being Jew!